Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a human syndrome caused by intestinal viruses of the Picornaviridae family. The most common strains causing HFMD are Coxsackie A virus and Enterovirus71 (EV71). It is a common viral illness of infants and children and is extremely uncommon in adults; however, still a possibility. Most adults have strong enough immune systems to defend the virus, but those with immune deficiencies are very susceptible.
It is often confused with foot-and-mouth (also called hoof-and-mouth) disease, a disease of cattle, sheep, and swine; however, the two diseases are not related—they are caused by different viruses. Humans do not get the animal disease, and animals do not get the human disease.
Typical symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease include:
- cold-like symptoms, such as loss of appetite, cough and a moderately high temperature of around 38-39°C (100.4-102.2°F).
- a non-itchy red rash, made up of spots or small fluid-filled sacs (vesicles), which usually develops on the hands and feet, but may also occur on the knees, elbows, groin and buttocks; sometimes the rash can develop into painful blisters.
- painful mouth ulcers.
HMFD – Simple safety measures:
There is no vaccine to protect against HFMD. However, you can reduce the risk of getting infected with the viruses that cause HFMD by following a few simple steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers, and help young children do the same.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups and eating utensils with people who have HFMD.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.